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Play ball — and please hurry it up

By Philip Anselmo

Earlier this year, the Playing Rules Committee for Major League Baseball instituted some changes that would be tried out in the Minor Leagues to help speed up the game. (It should be mentioned that these changes were enacted before the Colorado Rockies took six hours and 22 innings to beat the San Diego Padres 2-1 in April.)

The changes would limit the time the pitcher has to throw the ball and the number of conferences on the mound with other players or coaches. From the MLB site:

Any combination of three or more manager/coach visits to the mound in a game without removing the pitcher will result in the automatic removal of the pitcher from the game on a fourth visit, regardless of whether prior visits were to the same or different pitcher(s). Additionally, no more than one infielder at a time is permitted to visit the mound, including during any visit by a manager or coach.

In Sunday's Niagara Gazette, contributor Doug Smith had a suggestion of his own to help keep the game going.’s one of life’s little contradictions that for most dedicated baseball fans, the quicker the game, the better.

To further this end, the New York-Pennsylvania League has instituted some speed-up rules for the 2008 season that begins in Batavia on June 18. The advisory reads like the tax code, but basically, umpires will crack down on those long caucuses on the mound in which most of the players discuss where they’re going after the game, or reference “that babe in section 102.”

With strong young arms and short pitch counts, the NY-P already ranks among the minor-league leaders in game pace, so this seems an unusual place to start, and Base Paths can’t see this providing much improvement.

Want to really speed up the games?

Limit the number of pickoff throws. Three per runner ought to do it, and Kenny Rogers is pretty close to retirement anyway.

The Batavia Muckdogs will get a taste of the changes when their season starts in Auburn on June 17. Tune in to WBTA (1490 AM) to get your Muckdogs baseball fix.

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